It's been a pretty full-on year for WhatsApp. The Facebook-owned messaging service, which is comfortably the most popular on the planet with more than two billion users, added a number of new features to its iPhone and Android app over the last year. Some of these had been planned for months, while others were a response to the ongoing public health crisis, which left millions sheltering at home and relying on services like WhatsApp to keep in touch with friends and family, work and study remotely.
If you haven't been keeping tabs on the latest innovations (or simply haven't updated your WhatsApp for a little while now), here's a rundown of three of the biggest new additions from the last 12 months. And we've also highlighted one new feature that it's probably safe to ignore.
So, if you're busy texting friends, sending GIFs to colleagues, or video calling distant relatives today – here are some of the new features you need to master.
1/ Get That Back-Up Working Again
If you're anything like us, WhatsApp has been moaning at you for some time that your storage is almost full. If you've been using WhatsApp to send videos, PDFs, and albums of photos (not to mention the endless stream of GIFs), then the size of your WhatsApp back-up is probably getting pretty substantial. If you're relying on the free allocation of iCloud or Google Drive storage that came with your handset, then you might be struggling to back-up all of your conversations.
That's a problem. It could mean you lose some treasured chats if you lose your smartphone. And if you're running out of local storage on your smartphone, then things get even worse – that means you won't be able to take any pictures on Christmas Day.
Thankfully, WhatsApp launched a new storage tool earlier this last month designed to make freeing up memory on faster (and easier) than before. Go to Settings > Storage and data > Manage storage to find a breakdown of all your messages, photos, GIFs and videos neatly ordered into thumbnails.
There’s even a “Highly Forward” and “Larger than 5MB” section to delete any viral or large files and free-up a chunk of memory fast.
2/ Never Send A Message To The Wrong Person Again
It's the stuff of nightmares – you tap “Send” on a particularly bitchy message only to realise that you've sent it to the subject of the backhanded text, not the intended recipient. Thankfully, someone at WhatsApp must've found themselves in the same sticky situation, as the Facebook-owned app recently rolled out a handy fix.
In a recent update to WhatsApp on iPhone and Android, the messaging app seriously boosted its wallpaper function to enable you to set a custom design for different chats. Sure, it looks nice, but it also means these background images can help you recognise one from the other.
And if you're not the kind of person to send malicious messages – first of all, good for you. And secondly, this feature is still a great way to make WhatsApp look a little prettier. You can choose any image you like to customise your chat, so feel free to include some personal memories to individual chats and groups.
To set a custom wallpaper, iPhone owners need to click on the person or Group name to find the Wallpaper And Sound menu, meanwhile Android users can find it by clicking the small three-dot icon in the corner of the screen.
3/ Set Your Out Of Office On
If you've been using WhatsApp to keep in touch with colleagues or discuss upcoming work projects, then it's not unreasonable to want a break from the office over the festive period. But while it's quite simple to set an Out Of Office on your inbox and walk away …the same isn't true for your smartphone, especially if you've been using your personal number for work in recent months.
While WhatsApp has long boasted a mute feature, the company has made some welcome changes in the last few months designed to help you enjoy the silence. Muting some Groups will help gain this respite and focus your time on those you are closest to.
To mute a chat, swipe the group to the left in the Chats tab. Then tap More … > Mute and choose how long you would like to mute it for. Following the most recent WhatsApp update, you'll now be able to mute a conversation indefinitely (until now, the top limit was one year).
Written by David Minister
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